Simon, creator of New Earth School is passionate about reviving our human role as caring custodians to our home, planet Earth.
Over the past 8 years in rural Bali, Indonesia we have established an integrated model for more sustainable, regenerative and empowered living. We refer to this model as ‘New Earth Living’.
We have established a regenerative food chain including:
- Edible ecosystems we call ‘food forests’, which benefit Earth whilst being productive
- An education facility we call “New Earth School’
- Various restaurants which embrace produce, suitable to these systems
- Full cycle fertility and waste systems, lessening the reliance on crude oil and imported goods
- The wet tropics are the wealthiest regions in the world. Home to vast amounts of rainforest featuring extreme biodiversity, rich biomass and a year-round growing climate. The tropics are rich beyond measure.
- Due to the nature of our economic, agricultural and financial systems, countries with less biodiversity, manpower and natural resources are, economically speaking, richer than typical nations around the equator.
A better model
Through years of observation and experimentation, we have crafted a more empowering community model, which could easily be transferred and scaled in other regions with similar climates and socioeconomic standards.
To illustrate our model, we will share 2 of several observations and a range of solutions the New Earth Model offers.
The European ‘plantation model’ is unsuitable to the tropics.
One would think that a rainforest homes a deep, rich layer of topsoil in order for such abundance to thrive. This is not true. European forest typically has much richer, thicker topsoil. Where does the tropical rainforest derive its nutrition from? The answer is in the ecosystem itself. Essentially, nutrients are stored in the canopy through ongoing shedding of leaves and branches along with the interaction of wildlife which lives in, on and above the soil. Through the interaction in the ecosystem a nutrient cycle is completed.
The plantation model dictates forest clearing in favour of plantation. By removing the forest, we remove the source of nutrients and the protector of soil. Bare soils quickly degrade under heavy rainfall. Fertilizers, which are mined elsewhere, need to be brought in furthering soil destruction. Poor soil results in plant disease which is attacked with copious amounts of chemicals which weaken the ecosystem even further.
In our observations in Indonesia, the average farmer lacks understanding of the ecosystem he/she operates in. Unable to see the connection and not empowered to make changes, farmers stick to a system which is increasingly challenging to maintain.
The ‘green revolution’ which promised greater welfare, needs to evolve
In the case of Indonesia, an industrial farming system was introduced in the 1970’s called the green revolution. It encouraged farmers to switch to new hybrid varieties of rice, vegetables and other crops. It tempted farmers with quick results and hooked them into a system of production pressure and debt.
Speaking to many farmers over the past 8 years, we hear the same stories.
- Soils are depleted and require more artificial fertilizer year after year
- Fish stocks, wildlife and insects have disappeared. Wild foraged plants and animals used to be an important food source for peasant farmers. Now they rely on buying cheap, imported foods instead.
- Chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and many others are a new occurrence in recent decades in their communities.
Solutions explored. What do we need to create change?
Education facilities for cooking and growing food differently.
Currently, in Indonesia, traditional diets rapidly disappear in favour of a more Western diet. High in sugar, fats, artificial flavours and brain stimulating chemicals, these foods are as addictive as any other addictive substance,
We have observed that with the right education and options, local people are happy and willing to improve their diets. Also, in the tropics, healthier food does not need to be more expensive than conventional foods. With the right support, farmers are willing to invest in revitalizing their soils and growing crops that feed the community.
Modern restaurants in urban environments to popularize certain ingredients.
In the case of Indonesia, there are certain social stigmas around perfectly healthy traditional foods such as soybean tempeh, jack fruit and others. Whilst the poorer populations tend to view these foods as inferior, in higher socioeconomic classes these foods find a revival due to their health benefits and eco sustainability. We need chefs at modern restaurants to work with these ingredients, creating new, exciting ways of consuming these. The results trickle down into the food chain, creating a market for farmers
Top 5 Food Forest Produce
- Taro Root
- Sweet Potato
New Earth School, a success story.
Industrial poultry farming is particularly disempowering to the central region of Bali, Indonesia. The basics of the model involve hybridized chicken varieties which don’t survive without antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. The model further involves imported grains to feed the poultry.
It essentially functions like a franchise, mainly benefitting the parent company who supplies all of the goods involved in production, gaining an unfair monopoly on the local market. The meat produced is less healthy and nutritious than traditionally raised poultry. The farmers rely on a steady market price and many don’t even profit despite hard work.
We aquired such a farm and decided to trial a model which would be
- Not harmful but regenerative to the environment
- Aimed at empowering people, farmers included
- More financially profitable than a poultry farm
We converted the farm building into New Earth School, and converted 2 hectares of the surrounding land into edible ecosystems we call food forests.
We developed a curriculum of cooking and food growing classes which we share with a domestic and international audience.
Since 3 years, we regularly teach classes and host internship programs, planting seeds of change into the minds and hearts of participants. Many ex participants have used their inspiration to create their own projects impacting change around the world. Hence, the schools function like a forest, spreading seeds of change and fuelling rapid, exponential growth.
The school offers employment to the local community. It inspires local farmers to more regenerative ways of working and with that has the potential to drastically improve the health and wellbeing of the community.
We are at a point that this model can be transferred and scaled, adjusted to the local environment anywhere in the world. The model is especially fruitful in tropical regions.
There is, beyond any doubt, more than enough abundance locked into our biosphere to comfortably home and feed every individual on Earth. Forever.